Sermon Notes & References

Words for Wives

1 Peter 3:1-6

Sunday, July 7, 2019

1 After the same manner, O wives, be in submission to your own husbands, in order that, even if they are disobedient to the word, on account of the conduct of the wives they shall be won over without a word 2 upon examining the blamelessness (shown in reverence) of your conduct. 3 Let not yours be the outward: braiding of hair and wrapping in golden ornaments or being dressed in beautiful clothes; 4 but rather the hidden character of the heart, in that which is enduring: quietness of life and gentleness of spirit, which is of great value in the sight of God. 5 For in such a way also the holy wives of old, who were trusting [lit., hoping] in God, used to make themselves beautiful [’applied their cosmetics’], being subject to their own husband 6 as Sarah hearkened to Abraham, addressing him ‘lord’; of whom you are become children, doing good and not being afraid of absolutely any terror.                   (RGH)


A.  Introduction

      1.  “Some Christian Marriage Counselling”

      2.  Three Short Topics

B.  Your Submission (1-2)

      1.  In the Same Way

      2.  A Winning Way Footnote

      3.  A Silent Testimony Footnote

C.  Your Beauty (3-4)

      1.  Not Merely Outside Footnote

      2.  But Permanently Inside

D.  Your Example (5-6)

      1.  In Holy Women of OT Footnote

      2.  As Sarah’s Spiritual Daughters

Endnote  1 Peter 3:1-6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Words for Wives


A. Introduction

    1. “Some Christian Marriage Counselling”

        a. that was the title given to this section many years ago by Sherwood E. Wirt, editor of Decision magazine, in his series on 1 Peter.

        b. so, although these are words to wives, we husbands should pay some attention to what is said

        c. especially since next week we shall look at Peter’s word to husbands

        d. I have been told that husbands are not easy to live with: well, perhaps not all husbands … I think the reference made was very specific …

        e. So I guess I shall have especially to listen this week and next.


    2. Three Short Topics

        a. the outline of this passage is very simple

        b. because there are three sentences in the Greek as well as in many of the English translations, with a key topic in each sentence

            (A)    Submission

            (B)    Beauty

            (C)   Example


B. Your Submission (vv 1-2)

    1. In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behaviour of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behaviour.


    2. In the Same Way

        a. this chapter begins with the word, ‘likewise’ or ‘in the same manner’

            (A)    but to what manner is reference being made

            (B)    to determine this, let us first make note of the fact that the key, introductory topic is that of submission

            (C)   this submission is being compared to a previously mentioned one

        b. so we could look back to the verses beginning with2:13

            (A)    ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution …’

            (B)    but those are being addressed to every believer, including wives

            (C)   (Verse 16 does not include the word ‘men’, and could have simply been translated ‘as free’ or ‘as free people’.)

            (D)   so that it is not that verse to which reference is being made

        c. or, we could go back to verses 2:18ff: ‘Servants, be submissive’

            (A)    but again, these do not form a clear comparison to this verse

            (B)    servants would include both men & women, husbands & wives

        d. but what about the immediately preceding verses from 2:21ff?

            (A)    these do not actually use the word ‘submit’, but rather describe how Jesus submitted to death to earn our salvation

            (B)    Jesus is given as an example to what both precedes & follows

            (C)   and note that His submission was marked by the way in which He restrained His speech which is also called upon in these verses.


    3. A Winning Way

        a. as Christ’s road to Calvary was not an easy way, neither is this

            (A)    even Christian husbands can interpret the term ‘head of the wife’ wrongly, ignoring all the qualifications in Ephesians 5 – stick around, guys, for next week!

            (B)    but in most cultures of the world, including our own, despite all the claims to the contrary, the right of the husband to unjust & cruel dominance is frequently held – especially if he should be unsaved

            (C)   what would Jesus do? How is a wife to respond?

        b. I think the word ‘submissive’ is better here than ‘subjection’

            (A)    for it is a voluntary, rather than a forced, response

            (B)    it is the rational application of the commitment that is marriage

            (C)   for emotional attraction can quickly turn 180° around to hatred

        c. there is a decision here by a wife to live as unto the Lord

            (A)    that the man once won as husband

            (B)    may now be further won by what he observes in his wife

            (C)   that word ‘observe’ describes looking closely upon, inspecting

            (D)   and what does he see?

            (E)    a changed behaviour from other women

                 (1)    she is pure – chaste and holy – old-fashioned words today

                 (2)    she shows respect – giving honour to her husband according to what he should be

            (F)    a witness that will go beyond the borders of their residence


    4. A Silent Testimony

        a. What two kinds of husband may be meant here?

            (A)    a. an unbeliever who has heard but not accepted the gospel word

            (B)    b. a man who has accepted that word but is carnal, his life not yet been turned around by submission to the Holy Spirit

        b. some translate this ‘without the word’, but that is incorrect as it is not in the Greek and is contrary to the Scripture that ‘faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (Romans 10:17)

            (A)    but rather than use of mere words – nagging

            (B)    using the actions that speak louder than words

        c. How may the recommended action win over?

            (A)    a. type? – the contrast of the life, behaviour and treatment of her husband by a Christian wife versus a non-Christian one (may not change even if he admits this)

            (B)    b. type'? – the example of Christ-like life and love in the wife produced by the Holy Spirit engender a desire and yielding in the husband for the same change in himself


C. Your Beauty (vv 3-4)

    1. And let not your adornment be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewellery, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.


    2. Not Merely Outside

        a. that word, ‘merely’, is found in only some translations & not in Greek

            (A)    but it is, nevertheless, implied

            (B)    for the Scriptures remark on the beauty of such women as Sarah, Rebekah, Esther and the queen in Psalm 45, and the giving to them of ornaments and the like is acceptable

            (C)   also, in a command where an emphatic ‘not’ is almost always used, here it is a weaker ‘let not your adornment’

        b. but combining such things with a godless attitude is wrong

            (A)    perhaps Peter was thinking back to what is said in Isaiah 3:16ff

            (B)    Moreover, the LORD said, ‘Because the daughters of Zion are proud, And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes, And go along with mincing steps, And tinkle the bangles on their feet,’

            (C)   for God goes on to say he will take away all their jewels & finery

            (D)   for such beauty does not last – Illustration of ‘well-worn’ woman who used to strut down the street near my office years ago

            (E)    because of the transience of such beauty, jewellery and dress, Peter goes on to the beauty that really matters.


    3. But Permanently Inside

        a. these qualities of beauty are part of the real, inner you

            (A)    beauty, it has been said, is only skin-deep

            (B)    but not this kind of beauty – it goes through and through you

        b. this beauty is better than the externals

            (A)    for it is enduring, incorruptible – cannot be damaged

            (B)    externals – beauty of face, form or cosmetic – the very things that may first attract attention, can later arouse jealousy, can become overfamiliar, can become time-worn and their attraction fade

        c. yet this beauty is clearly to be seen

            (A)    in character of what you truly are

            (B)    in conduct in the quietness of life

            (C)   in attitude of gentleness of spirit

            (D)   which marks of strength will clearly reveal themselves to your husband as well as to all those around.


D. Your Example (vv 5-6)

    1. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands. Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.


    2. In Holy OT Women

        a. the Scriptures have given examples to follow

        b. if one wants to look at an OT example of a wife who put up with a brute of a husband, look no further than Abigail & her husband Nabal

            (A)    that name, Nabal, means stupid, foolish, wicked; and so he was

            (B)    when Nabel did wrong, Abigail silently made things right, so saving him from injury or even death

            (C)   and when she told him afterwards, ‘his heart died within him so that he became as a stone.’ (1 Samuel 25:37), and soon after died

        c. such women were marked as holy, for they hoped or trusted in God

            (A)    and the adornment that marked them was a submissive spirit

            (B)    not to men as a class, but in their relationship to the husband

            (C)   ‘calling him, “Lord”’ – this is found in Genesis 18:12, the word not being that which is used of God, but of respect, and the NT Greek equivalent, though used of God, is sometimes just equal to ‘Sir!’

            (D)   it is a respect not based on domination or enforced rule, but for what God intended that the husband should be

        d. not every husband, it is sad to say, will respond to this

            (A)    yet it does set a standard for us

            (B)    and positive reinforcement is said to encourage better behaviour!


    3. As Sarah’s Spiritual Daughters

        a. this is not a dangerous course!

            (A)    following God’s pattern should not be a fearful experience, nor should one be terrified to follow it

                 (1)    remember, though, that here we are not speaking in reference to abuse, a far different situation with different remedies

                 (2)    but in the proper, normal relationship of husband and wife

            (B)    in fact, it should be more fulfilling, as each partner recognises the area of strength of the other

            (C)   Illustration: cases where the husband gives the money management or decisions to the wife because she is simply better at it

        b. so what does following Sarah’s (and other’s) examples do?

            (A)    they become daughters of Sarah; i.e., having a like character

                 (1)    you have heard of Dorcas’ societies: ladies serving by sewing

                 (2)    why don’t we hear of Sarah’s societies?

            (B)    they are equipped for well-doing

            (C)   they have confidence because they know there are operating within God’s designed framework – to overstep these bounds is terror.

        c. finally, by your becoming ‘daughters of Sarah’

            (A)    you yourself will become in turn examples to others

            (B)    and a testimony to Jesus Christ and to the word of God.

            (C)   and this is a very high occupation and calling.

        d. may each of us take counself from these verses.